Evening Update Tuesday 18 January 2022

French Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer has said that he regrets "the symbolism" of his holiday in Ibiza, saying that he "should probably have chosen" another place. According to recent reports in French media, the minister was on holiday on the Spanish island when he announced controversial health protocols for schools. Speaking at the National Assembly this afternoon he said that the decisions he took would not have been different had he been elsewhere. The opposition have demanded his resignation.

The first deliveries of the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine should arrive in France during the week of 21 February, according to the Ministry of Health. It said that the initial delivery should be of 1.1 to 1.2 million doses, followed by 800,000 doses per week in March. The French High Authority of Health approved the vaccine last week. It's the fifth Covid-19 vaccine which the Authority has authorised, the others being the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines.

The number of patients in critical care in France yesterday was virtually the same as the figure a week previously. 3,913 people were in critical care in French hospitals yesterday, compared to 3,904 the previous Monday.

Covid-19 positivity rates in Monaco have remained at broadly the same level for two weeks in a row. In figures released yeaterday evening the Monaco government said that the incidence rate per 100,000 people was 1,953 over the last seven days. Over the previous seven days it was only slightly higher at 1,966. The government also said that 10,616 PCR and antigen tests had been carried out on resident and non-resident patients between 10 January and 16 January inclusive with a positivity rate of 12.07%. As at yesterday evening, 35 people, including 21 residents, were hospitalized in the Princesse Grace Hospital. Five other patients, including one resident, are being treated in intensive care.

One person is in a critical condition in hospital after an apartment fire in the centre of Nice this morning. Several residents in the block are being rehoused after the blaze in rue Alfred Binet, near the railway station. Deputy Mayor Anthony Borre praised the rapid intervention by firefighters and the National and Municipal Police.

Just over 6.5 million passengers travelled through Nice Cote d'Azur Airport last year. The figure was about 45% of pre-pandemic 2019 levels. However, the airport saw an improvement in the second half of 2021 compared to the first half which was badly affected by Covid-19 measures.

An operation started today to recover the wreck of a yacht off the coast of the Var. The Reine d'Azur suffered a major fire last August and sunk at a depth of about 55 metres off the Ile du Levant. The first part of the work, which will take several days, will consist of the installation of a floating crane and an anti-pollution boom as well as installations necessary for the divers. The wreckage will be deposited on a barge and will be transported to a shipyard in Saint-Mandrier and then onwards to Greece to be dismantled.

Alpes Maritimes firefighters have been carrying ot a controlled burn of undergrowth in the communes of Castellar and Coursegoules today. They advised local residents not to be concerned if they see smoke.

 

BUSINESS

Microsoft has announced that it is acquiring computer games maker Activision Blizzard for about 68.7 billion dollars. Activision Blizzard is the company behind games such as Warcraft, Call of Duty and Candy Crush. It's Microsoft's largest ever acquisition.

Newly released estimates from the UK Office for National Statistics show that there were over 400,000 more employees on UK payrolls in December 2021 than there were in February 2020 before the pandemic. It also said that the number of job vacancies in the October to December quarter rose to a new record. However, the rate of growth in vacancies continued to slow down. The Institute for Employment Studies said that the figures are not as positive as at first sight, with employment "stuck 600,000 below pre-covid" levels and "inactivity" up by 400,000

ExxonMobil today announced its ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions for operated assets by 2050. Darren Woods, chairman and CEO said that the company is developing "comprehensive roadmaps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" from its operated assets and where it is not the operator it is working with its partners "to achieve similar emission-reduction results.”


SPORT

Tennis.... Emma Raducanu has beaten Sloane Stephens in the British player's debut at the Australian Open. The final score was 6-0  2-6  6-1. Andy Murray is through to the next round of the tournament after a five-set win against 21st seed Nikoloz Basil-ash-vili. The final score was 6-1  3-6  6-4  6-7  6-4. Daniil Medvedev moved into the second round with a straight-set victory over Henri Laaksonen. Heather Watson and Dan Evans are also through to the second round

Rugby Union... Six uncapped players have been included in England's Six Nations squad. Wasps back row Alfie Barbeary, Bath fly-half Orlando Bailey and London Irish full-back Ollie Hassell-Collins are all included. Sam Underhill, George Ford and Elliot Daly are left out. Captain Owen Farrell is included despite not playing since suffering an ankle injury against Australia in November.

Meanwhile, Wales have named Dan Biggar as captain for the Six Nations in the absence of Alun Wyn Jones who is injured. Adam Beard is vice-captain. Uncapped players Dewi Lake, Jac Morgan and James Ratti are included in the squad.

 

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